Why Should I Look for “Soft Skills” in My Next Manufacturing Hire?

Technical skills have always been the focus when hiring manufacturing clients. Interpret that as you will, but the fact is – manufacturing is dangerous, intricate work and unskilled hands are hazards. Innovations in manufacturing are likewise made by keen, observatory brains and an ability to enlist technical and physical awareness as an ally to equations, CAD drafting, welding, supply chain factory articulation, and engineering. Without technicality, manufacturing cannot be.

So, why the big stink about “soft skills?” Isn’t that just a bunch of Kumbaya that recruiters use to weed out candidates? Are soft skills really important in an industry where proficiencies are so specific?

Well, yes and no.

The infamous “skills shortage”

It came to be, around a year ago, that a soft skills ‘shortage’ was widely identified in our country. It was speculated that manufacturing teams were less able to resolve interpersonal conflicts, less adept in communication and work flow designation, less savvy in management. While we’re not sure we buy that assessment in full, as a recruitment company we decided to be sure that every candidate we represented had soft skills, and that every company we represented knew how to identify and appreciate them. Shortage or no shortage, soft skills are important in every industry – manufacturing included.

“Soft skills are critical, particularly for candidates in a manufacturing or industrial position,” says John Bengal, director of search for The Reserves Network. “Often times, technical skills will become the primary focus in a talent search. In reality, strong soft skills can aid in the development of a candidate’s technical skills long-term. On the flipside, if they’re lacking in key soft skills it can hinder their ability to showcase the other skill sets that initially make them an attractive candidate.”

What we found was that many manufacturing companies and plants weren’t aware of which soft skills they should be expecting in their new hires nor were candidates aware of which ones to boast in a resume. Here’s looking at you:

Soft skills to look for in your next manufacturing hire:

Timeliness. We include this soft skill knowing it may be obvious to most. In manufacturing, timeliness doesn’t only speak to a person’s prompt nature in arriving to work, but also his or her ability to meet deadlines, finish projects quickly, think on his or her feet, and react reflexively. As trouble brews in the world of machinery and production – as it inevitably will – being nimble is crucial.

Communication. Often, mechanical powerhouses are painted as isolationists – hermits working long hours on their craft without collaboration. We reject this notion entirely and assert its inaccuracy. It is important not to coddle this bias because it breeds in our engineers and manufacturing leaders the idea that there are no teams, only individuals working toward a common goal. Manufacturers, however, should know that, just like in all machines, all parts make up the sum. A candidate should possess the ability to work out problems, handle conflicts, and drive action with verbosity.

Adaptability. Production regulations and processes change, fast! Our tech-hungry world turns and suddenly the machines on which we have been trained are obsolete and replaced with new. We innovate so often that the processes and even the mathematics behind our daily activities can be “upgraded” before we’ve grown used to the last version. If a manufacturing candidate is flexible, he or she is immune to this challenge.

Enthusiasm. Not all of us get up every morning enticed by the idea of complex equations, mechanical shutdowns, workflow and logistics debacles and the potential for an industrial disaster – but others of us are truly passionate about the field. Recruiting for your open manufacturing position and expecting all of the candidates to be dry, calculated, and uninspired is all wrong. You can – and should – hire savvy manufacturing employees who are passionate about what they do.

For more guidance or to be connected with top manufacturing talent, become a client of The Reserves Network, an expert recruitment agency that specializes in manufacturing and light industrial staffing.

Navigating the Grey Area of Employee Absences

Employee absence is usually pretty black and white. You show up or you use one of your vacation or sick days. It’s that simple right? Not quite.

Let’s say one of your employees has a disability and said disability requires frequent visits to the doctor’s office, as well as an above average time away from work for bed rest. Welcome to the grey area of excessive employee absences.

Of course you cannot fire this employee, not only because this would be a legal nightmare, but also because they are a valuable piece to your puzzle. However, the show must go on. So, what do you do when your employees keep missing work?

Set Clear Expectations

Your team should know the absence policy from the beginning. How many vacation days and sick days they have, and what happens if they miss work without using either of these days. If an employee has an excessive amount of excused absences from work, there still needs to be a process set in place to keep up productivity. Do you hire temporary work? Do you allow your absent employee to work remotely from home? Do you need to establish a better means of communication between the absent employee and the team that is helping pick up their workload? Be ready for anything and clear with everything so that your employees understand and never take advantage of your absence policy.

Also be certain to never play favorites. Always treat each individual the same. The only unique cases should be those of employees that have a disability or condition that would require them to frequently miss work.

Get a Doctor’s Note

It’s not too personal or untrusting to require a doctor’s note for any employee who misses work due to medical reasons. Make this part of your policy and make no exceptions.

Be Direct and Talk About It

Pretending like an employee’s excessive absences aren’t a problem is not helping the situation. You have to hold a private meeting with the employee and get things figured out. Don’t assume anything, just figure out the facts through the conversation. There’s nothing disciplinary about it, it’s just figuring out logistics. Be certain that you have all of the facts straight and remember never to bring vacation time into the mix.

Inform the employee of the impact the absences have had on their performance and the company as a whole. Once you both have a better understanding of the situation, work on a solution together. You will be able speak to the company’s needs and the employee will be able to suggest ways in which their unique situation could be accommodated. This is why being clear and emphasizing communication and collaboration is the best way to navigate the grey area of frequent employee absences.

For more management tips or to find your next great Columbus office candidate, technical professional in Savannah, Akron industrial worker or Chicago professional, contact The Reserves Network. TRN has all of the resources of a national provider with the care of a local partner.

Looking for World Class Talent?

Job Fair at Intigral in Walton Hills

The Reserves Network and Intigral are  hosting a job fair on Monday, Aug. 29 from 10am-3pm, located at Intigral in Walton Hills. TRN has immediate job openings for Production Operators.

  • All shifts available
  • $10-10.50/hr.
  • Previous experience a plus

If unable to attend this event apply online at www.trnstaffing.com.

Please bring a resume or work history.

Monday, Aug. 29

Intigral: Walton Hills

7800 Northfield Rd

Walton Hills, Ohio 44146

For more information contact:

(216) 475-7700 or garfield@TRNstaffing.com

How to Re-Discover Your Creative Spark at Work


How to Re-Discover Your Creative Spark at Work

In order to be successful and drive change, employees need to be creative, and willing to think “outside the box”. With a constant influx of information always at our fingertips, it’s more important than ever to keep coming up with new ideas.  Yet what happens when your creative juices stop flowing?  Here are some quick tips for recapturing your inspiration.




Sit and Observe

Sometimes, taking a minute to observe the world around us is all we need.  We’re always busy, and we live in a constant state of rush.  This means that we tune out the world around us, missing details that can oftentimes create a unique experience.  Take time to stop and notice all of the small things, and observe the nuances you normally ignore.  You may end up noticing something that sparks your next big idea.


Go For A Walk

As odd as it sounds, studies have shown walking is linked with the generation of new ideas.  Rather than sitting at your desk and forcing yourself to try and come up with a creative thought, get moving.  Just by taking a short walk around the block, or even the office, you can spark a creative moment.


Get to Where It’s Noisy

No, we’re not suggesting going into the middle of a rock concert in order to get your creative kick.  Finding a mid-range volume level, like those found in book stores and coffee shops, can actually help push your brain into gear.  By having to ignore some noise without being completely deafened, you’re forced to think abstractly, which could potentially lead you to a breakthrough idea.


Don’t Worry About Originality

Part of the reason we find ourselves not being creative is because we feel like we have to come up with something brand new.  While new ideas are always great, fixating on it can stop you from discovering them altogether.  Instead, focus on an ideal your company is already good at, or play off of a strength.  By improving upon a current goal or idea, you can allow your brain to focus on a task, and really delve into a creative realm.


Human nature is to seek out repetition and routine.  It’s why we park in the same spot at work everyday, why we do better when we wake at the same time each day, and why we tend to think about things in the exact same way.  However, when it’s time to get creative, breaking that routine is exactly what we need.



  1. Lifehacker
  2. Fast Company

The Reserves Network Named One of Largest U.S. Staffing Firms by Staffing Industry Analyst

For the second year in a row, The Reserves Network has been recognized by Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) as one of the largest staffing and talent engagement firms in the United States.

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Placed as #122 on the list, TRN obtained an overall market share of .1 percent of an estimated $75.7 billion in U.S. staffing and talent engagement revenue.

SIA provides worldwide research and data regarding contingent workforces. Each year, the SIA releases a list of the largest U.S. staffing agencies to gauge growth, hypothesize trends and identify industry leaders.

Staffing agencies were ranked according to their total U.S. revenue produced during the 2015 calendar year. Revenue included temporary and permanent work placement, retained search, outplacement services, and net revenue from Managed Service Providers (MSPs). Each firm was required to generate a minimum of $100 million in staffing revenue to be considered for the elite list, which recognizes the top 133 staffing agencies in the country

Recruitment Event at Ohio Means Jobs in Medina!

Recruitment Event- Ohio Means Jobs, Medina County

The Reserves Network will be hosting a recruiting event at Ohio Means Jobs- Medina County on Wednesday, August 24. The Reserves Network has immediate job openings for the following positions:

  • Machine Operators (all shifts available)
  • Material Handler
  • General Office Positions

All positions are near the Brunswick, Ohio area. Please bring a resume/work history with you.

If unable to attend this event apply online at www.trnstaffing.com.

Wednesday, August 24


Ohio Means Jobs- Medina County

3721 Pearl Rd

Medina, OH 44256

Contact for more information:

The Reserves Network- Brunswick



5 Types of Questions That Will Knock the Socks Off Your Interviewer

You’re coursing through question after question in your interview feeling like you’re nailing each one and then the ball drops: “Do you have any questions for me?” The “me” is always emphatic and the silence is always palpable. “Nope, I’m good!” is a standard response and only a one-off from incomprehensible stammering. You never feel quite prepared for this end-all and without questions of your own, the interview ends on a flat note. Never hear the crickets chirp at the end of an otherwise-dynamic interview again by choosing from these essential questions to ask your interviewer.

  1. Ask about the role.

In order to ensure that you’re a good fit, it’s important to know exactly what you’re trying to fit into. You’ve read the posting and the hiring manager has given you a rundown of the basics but now, it’s time to elaborate.

“Can you tell me what a typical day looks like for the person in this role?”
“What types of responsibilities will this role incur that were not mentioned in posting?”
“Does this position inherently fill in for another when someone is absent?”
“What does the training and onboarding process look like for the individual hired?”

Don’t focus on benefits or anything too self-serving. Take this as an opportunity to evaluate fit, not flair.

  1. Ask about the company.

You’ve done some research. You looked at the company’s website, LinkedIn, social media profiles, and any other newsworthy bits you could find. If you know people in their network, you’ve asked around. The posting and the interviewer have both probably mentioned other company fast-facts. Now, it’s time to dig in.

“Where does the organization as a whole intend to be in five years?”
“Are there any big recent developments or changes I should be aware of?”
“Why does the company need to fill this role; how would I serve the overall mission if hired?”
“How does the company support continuing education and growth?”
“What are the company’s policies or views on work conditions/atmosphere?”

  1. Ask about the team.

In a full-time role, you will spend 40 hours per week with these people, plus extra for happy hour, networking events, or rush deadlines. If you wouldn’t jibe, you may find the disconnect distracting if not impeding toward your work. Investigate the team like this.

“Who are the key players on the team for this role?”
“Does this role manage any other team members directly?” or if you know that it does “What management styles have proven effective for this team?”
“What is the nature of team meetings or collaborative events in the office?”
“Are there any remote teams, subcontractors, or off-shore annex teams to work with?”
“How will this role serve the team, i.e. ‘what position would I play?’”

  1. Ask about the interviewer.

Without schmoozing, you can easily develop a connection with your interviewer whether they are an HR professional with no further connection to the team at hand or the direct supervisor to the role being discussed. Asking personal questions is a fast-pass to rejection but genuine and appropriate intrigue is rarely forgotten. Try these.

“In your term with the company, what has been the biggest triumph or milestone for the organization? How was it celebrated?”
“Do you love working here? What do you love about it?”
“Where do you see yourself going in this company – what makes you want to stay?

  1. Ask about the process.

It is always appropriate to ask questions to better understand what to expect moving forward in the recruitment cycle. It is also okay to ask if there is anything else the interviewer would like to see in order to support your candidacy. Logistics are never taboo.

There is no need to prepare 20+ questions for your interviewer and in fact, less is more. Choose from these or craft your own but be sure they haven’t already been answered or couldn’t be researched at home – ask for insider info and make good use of the final countdown!

To get more tips for your next interview and bagging the job of your dreams, put your trust in the experts at TRN – the experienced representatives of talent like yours. Contact us today to get connected with your next opportunity.

The Management Tool Your Company is Under-using Could Change the Game. Bonus: It’s FREE!

As a manager, you have gathered up tons of super-actionable tools for your leadership toolbelt. You have learned how to evaluate with couth, how to motivate, and how to get things done. You’re flexible, encouraging, and a good role model…but you’re always looking for new ways to become a better manager. There’s one management tool you’re overlooking that can help you supercharge your mentorship capabilities, employee satisfaction, and the productivity and progress of your whole team. Even better, this multi-tool is already in your toolbelt: Listening. Below are ways that listening makes managers better.

Productivity will increase.

Listening to employee needs, interpersonal conflicts, triumphs, obstacles, and goals will demonstrate that you care and inspire them to care, too. You’ll learn more about your organization and department from the trenches and better synthesize internal dynamics with production data to oil your machine.

Satisfaction will increase.

Your employees will feel heard and perform with greater loyalty toward you and the company because they are no longer faceless. Employees will feel more satisfied and at-ease in the company knowing that they’re genuinely represented. Also, employees will feel validated in their career trajectory with your company if they feel as though decisions are made with their goals in mind.

How to Be a Better “Listening Leader”

All of these benefits sound great, but how do you enact your listening skills with employees and encourage them to open up?

  • Be present. Don’t check your phone or email messages while an employee is speaking with you and try to suspend your thought-reel from going berserk with deadlines and tasks. Feeling heard starts with actually being heard.
  • Provide listening cues. Eye contact, verbal signs of understanding, and a genuinely engaged stance go a long way toward inspiring employee communication and will also help open your receptors to what they’ve shared.
  • Observe body language. There is a lot of insight to be gleaned from your employee’s posture, facial expressions, and tone that can’t be perceived through words alone. This is why in-person or video communication is essential from time to time. Phrases like “you seem…” or “you appear…” also demonstrate your perceptiveness and make your employee feel understood.
  • Recall and Recap. Nothing demonstrates comprehension and concern better than repeating what has just been shared back to the person who shared it. Try this and watch your employees settle into your listening leadership.
  • Ask questions. If you really want to understand and retain something, you must interact. Rather than leave an open-door policy and expect your employees to flood in, be proactive! Asking questions before they share and while they’re sharing shows that you’re interested.
  • Curb reactivity. Many employees clam up at work for fear that their managers will react in frustration, anger, or disdain. Regardless of what your employee has expressed, take time after the discussion to ingest and prepare an appropriate response. Your employee will feel safer instantly.

The benefits of a “listening leader” are numerous and invaluable. Employees will feel better, teams will function better, and the company will grow and improve. Start listening more actively and you may inspire your teams to do the same. For more interpersonal advice and management tips, follow TRN on social media or revisit our blog!

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Mechanical Assembler Hiring Event

The Reserves Network will be hosting an on-site hiring event for mechanical assemblers on Thursday, August 4. The Reserves Network has immediate job openings for the following position:

  • Mechanical Assemblers
    • 6am-6:30pm Mon-Fri with possible weekend work
    • $14/hour
    • Start August 15
    • Candidate must have strong math skills and experience using hand tools

All positions are in the Milwaukee area. Please bring a resume and documents to complete an I-9.

If unable to attend this event apply online at www.trnstaffing.com.

Thursday, August 4


8600 Sheridan Rd

Kenosha, WI 53143

Contact for more information:

The Reserves Network- Milwaukee